Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

A master of the skies and a superb fisherman

Information about Brown Pelican

One bird which you will see many times on your Galápagos cruise is the majestic Brown Pelican, the smallest of all pelican species. This bird is widespread around all the Galápagos islands and can also be seen as far away as the coast of America.

The Brown Pelican can be seen flying gracefully over the water's surface and also plunge-diving into the sea for food before they head back to their nests in the mangrove lagoons.

This Brown Pelican technique of plunge-diving allows them to catch a beak full of fish and water. They then filter the water out and feast on the small fish and crustaceans that remain.

Brown Pelicans are known to fly very near to the water’s surface. This uses an aerodynamic principle called “ground effect”. The air trapped between their wings and the water increases their gliding efficiency and therefore saves energy.

These pelicans breed all year round in the Galápagos, and the female lays two to three eggs which are incubated by both parents. The parents work very closely together and share not only the incubation of their young but also the nurturing and feeding.

It is during this breeding time that you can see the distinctively rich, dark maroon-brown colours on their necks highlighted by a brilliant light gold wash on their heads. Quite a spectacular sight! Your Galapatours naturalist guide will help you to discover these delightful creatures during your Galápagos cruise.

Interesting facts about Brown Pelican

Commonly seen by boats and docks, particularly at Santa Cruz's Fisherman's dock.

Breeds in small colonies or all year round

Both male and female share parenting duties

They are masters of gliding, using "ground effect" close to the water's surface

Pictures of Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican

Highlights where the Brown Pelican can be seen

A walk on Bartholomew
A walk on Bartholomew

Bartholomew (known as Bartolomé locally) is the most popular excursion for Galápagos visitors, and its iconic scenery is the most photographed in the whole archipelago.

To start your walk on this island you will land in the small bay opposite the famous Pinnacle Rock. You then start the climb to the 375ft peak of Bartholomew. You’ll travel along a half mile trail that includes a series of wooden steps that have been built by the National Park Service to protect the ground here from erosion caused by tourists hiking to the summit.

When you arrive at the top of island the spectacular views will have made your efforts worthwhile. Your Galapatours expert guide will point out all the landmarks you will see from here - Pinnacle Rock itself, jutting skywards. The huge black lava flows of Sullivan Bay. The islands of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor.

On the way back down, you will be able to recognise the different volcanic formations evident on the island, such as tuff cones and volcanic spatter. You'll also see some remarkable examples of the Galápagos' ability to highlight the adaptation of species. For example the  bushes that all look dead are actually very much alive, with leaves covered with special grey hairs that help to reflect the harsh sun and reduce moisture loss for the plants.

Back at the beach there is excellent snorkeling, thanks to the underwater caves and rocks in the area. You will see various sharks, rays and tropical fish. You may also see Galápagos Penguins swimming with you!

Chinese Hat
Chinese Hat

Chinese Hat ("Sombrero Chino" to locals) is an islet set just a short distance off the southeastern coast of Santiago. The small channel between Chinese Hat and mainland Santiago is fairly deep yet sheltered and the water here is a glistening turquoise.

The islet gets its name because if you approach from the north you will see that this small volcanic cone does indeed look like the traditional bamboo or rice hat. Viewed from above on a satellite image, however, you will see that this islet is actually more of an oval shape.

There is a short hiking trail on Chinese Hat that runs along the western coast of the islet. This is a harsh landscape of volcanic rubble and lava formations, a very atmospheric reminder of the fiery origins of the Galápagos.

Along the cost of both Chinese Hat and the opposite Santiago shore you are likely to see Galápagos Sea Lions and Galápagos Penguins, either basking in the sun or seeking shade to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Overhead you might catch a glimpse of the magnificent Galápagos Hawk.

The stand-out reason for a visit to Chinese Hat however is to snorkel in that turquoise channel. Here you can see various species of sharks, rays, and a variety of tropical fish. Not all Galápagos boats can visit, and permits are only given to a select few boats and guides. Here at Galapatours we offer itineraries on all of these specially selected boats, so if a visit to Chinese Hat is important to you, speak to one of our Galápagos experts today to help choose the perfect itinerary.

Our trips to spot the Brown Pelican

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